MPI for Biological Cybernetics

Project Building VT Facilities Publications People


The TrackingLab is a large 12x15m hall with a state-of-the-art optical tracking system that
is used for head tracking and motion capture. This setup is mainly used to investigate aspects of human spatial perception, experience, and representation. For example, how we manage to keep track of were we came from, or how spatial environments are stored and accessed in our memory. Furthermore, the setup allows interdependencies between spatial behavior and affective responses to be systematically evaluated and therefore lends itself well to basic architectural research.

Head Tracking

In order to create a Virtual Environment (VE) which participants can freely explore as if they were walking in a real environment, we need to present the VE on a Head Mounted Display (HMD) that the participant wears in front of his/her eyes. To create the illusion of an environment that is fixed in world space, we need to know the precise location
and orientation of the participant's head. This is done by multiple Vicon MX13 systems that send out near infrared light and pick the rays up again as they are reflected by the markers. This results in multiple 2D images, from which, in conjuction with the accurate
calibration of the system, the positions of the markers in 3D-space can be calculated. A large number of cameras, distributed around the entire recording volume, ensures excellent precision of the 3D-reconstruction and avoids errors due to occlusion.
Knowing the precise transformation of the participant's head, one virtual camera position for each eye can be calculated and images from a 3D scene model can be rendered and displayed on the HMD to produce a stereoscopic view from the participant's point of view within the VE. In order to provide a smooth and jitter-free experience, this is done 120 times per second.

Motion Capture

The same tracking principle can be used to record individual markers attached to different body parts of the participant. With a set of 60 markers it is possible to record the full body motion of a person. It is also possible to attach small markers to a person's face or hand and capture very detailed motion data. This can be used as training data for action recognition system, for computer animations of 3D avatars or even for studying the interaction of two people in VR.


Participant discovering a Virtual Envrionment

Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics | Spemannstr. 38 | 72070 Tübingen | Germany
Phone: (49) 7071 601 601 | Fax: (49) 7071 601 616